Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 30:1

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Agur;   Ithiel;   Jakeh;   Ucal;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Proverb, the Book of;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Proverbs;   Wisdom literature;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Proverbs, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Oracles;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Jakeh;   Ucal;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ithiel;   Jakeh;   Ucal;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Agur;   Ithiel;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Proverbs, Book of;   Ucal;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agur;   Burden;   Ithiel;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Proverbs, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Burden;   Ithiel ;   Ucal ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Burden;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ith'i-El;   Lem'uel;   Serpent;   U'cal;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Burden;   Israel, Religion of;   Ithiel;   Ithiel and Ucal;   Jakeh;   Proverbs, Book of;   Ucal;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Agur ben Jakeh;   Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Eliezer B. Nathan of Mayence;   She'elot U-Teshubot;   Solomon;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh - The words Agur, Jakeh, Ithiel, and Ucal, have been considered by some as proper names: by others, as descriptive characters. With some, Agur is Solomon; and Jakeh, David; and Ithiel and Ural are epithets of Christ.

The Vulgate translates, Verba congregantis filii vomentis: visio, quam locutus est sir, cum quo est Deus, et qui Deo secum morante confortatus, ait. "The words of the collector, the son of the vomiter: the vision of the man who has God with him, and who is fortified by God dwelling with him, saith."

Coverdale makes the following words a title to the chapter:

"The wordes of Agur the sonne of Jake.

"The prophecie of a true faithfull man, whom God hath helped; whom God hath comforted and nourished."

The whole might be thus translated, keeping near to the letter: -

"The words of the epistle of the obedient son." Or,

"The words of the collector, the son of Jakeh. The parable which הגבר haggeber, the strong man, the hero, spake unto him who is God with me; to him who is God with me, even the strong God."

The visioun that a man spake with whiche is God, and that God with him, wonyng confortid. - Old MS. Bible.

From this introduction, from the names here used, and from the style of the book, it appears evident that Solomon was not the author of this chapter; and that it was designed to be distinguished from his work by this very preface, which specifically distinguishes it from the preceding work. Nor can the words in Proverbs 30:2, Proverbs 30:3, Proverbs 30:8, Proverbs 30:9, be at all applied to Solomon: they suit no part of Solomon's life, nor of his circumstances. We must, therefore, consider it an appendix or supplement to the preceding collection; something in the manner of that part which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, had collected. As to mysteries here, many have been found by them who sought for nothing else; but they are all, in my view of the subject, hazarded and precarious. I believe Agur, Jakeh, Ithiel, and Ural, to be the names of persons who did exist, but of whom we know nothing but what is here mentioned. Agur seems to have been a public teacher, and Ithiel and Ucal to have been his scholars; and what he delivers to them was done by prophesy. It was what the prophets generally term משא massa, an Oracle, something immediately delivered by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of man.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

See the introduction to Proverbs. According to the different reading, there noted, the inscription ends with: “the man spake,” and the words that follow, are the beginning of the confession, “I have wearied myself after God and have fainted.”

Spake - The Hebrew word is that commonly used of the utterance of a divine oracle.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible


"These final two chapters are remarkably different from the rest of the book."[1] This chapter is composed of six paragraphs which in Proverbs 30:1 seem to be ascribed to Agur, about whom we have no information. The final chapter is ascribed to Lemuel king of Masa; but nothing is known either of Lemuel, or of any country known as Masa. Some Jewish and Christian expositors have identified Agur with Solomon; but to this writer it appears to be impossible that David was ever known as Jakeh (Proverbs 30:1).

Toy subdivided the chapter as follows: "Title (Proverbs 30:1a). the words of Agur (Proverbs 30:1b-4), an exhortation to trust God (Proverbs 30:5-6), a prayer (Proverbs 30:7-9), an isolated maxim (Proverbs 30:10), a series of tetrads (Proverbs 30:11-31), and a sextet on pride and anger (Proverbs 30:32-33)."[2]


Proverbs 30:1a

"The words of Agur the son of Jakeh; the oracle."

Of either one of the proper names here, nothing is known; and in the LXX, no proper names at all appear here. One man's guess is as good as another's. "Some scholars argue that the words here rendered as proper names are not names at all but an Aramaic phrase."[3] It is true that there are a number of Aramaisms in this chapter; and earlier scholars like Toy dated the chapter in the second century B.C.; but the theory that the presence of Aramaisms signifies a late date has been completely exploded. (See our thorough discussion of this subject in Vol. 1 of our Minor Prophets series of commentaries, in the treatise on Jonah.)

It is not known whether "the words of Agur" may be understood as applicable to the whole chapter, or as limited to this first paragraph.

"The oracle here is the proper translation of the Hebrew; and it emphasizes the authority of what follows. The RSV and others (by an emendation) translate the word as Masa."[4] We are extremely suspicious of most of the emendations that scholars presume to make in the Hebrew text.

Proverbs 30:1-4


"The man saith unto Ithiel, unto Ithiel and Ucal:

Surely I am more brutish than any man, And have not the understanding of a man;

And I have not learned wisdom, Neither have I the knowledge of the Holy One.

Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in his garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou knowest?"

"Ithiel and Ucal" (Proverbs 30:1) We are just as much in the dark about these two names as we are of those in Proverbs 30:1b. In fact, the Hebrew text here (depending upon the vocalization of the Hebrew consonants) is also legitimately translated: "I have wearied myself, O God, I have wearied myself, O God, and come to an end."[5] This rendition, of course, fits the context much better than the other one.

The outstanding feature of this paragraph is the marvelous humility of the writer. His confession of almost infinite ignorance in those areas which most deeply concern humanity is a beautiful contrast indeed with the colossal conceit and arrogance which are the twin badges of our mortality. "In his own way, he affirms that reverence is the beginning of knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:2)."[6]

This whole paragraph is in the same line of thought with Job 38:1-10; and the answer that thunders in our ears at the end of each of these six questions is, "No man"! The writer is speaking of the Holy One (and he used the plural [~'Elohiym] for God).

"Who is his Son?" (Proverbs 30:4). This is the highlight of the paragraph, and we have taken the liberty of capitalizing the word Son, which is an evident reference to the Mediator. "The writer would not have dared to ask a question like this if he had believed God to be an abstract unity rather than a compound unity."[7] Delitzsch interprets the passage, "As a reference to the Mediator in creation, revealed at last as God's son."[8] "Greenstone denies that the passage refers to the [@Logos], but offers no positive alternative to explain the passage."[9] "Ewald also found here the idea of the [@Logos], as the first-born Son of God; and J. D. Michaelis felt himself constrained to recognize here the New Testament doctrine of the Son of God announcing itself from afar. And why may not this be possible?"[10]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh,.... Here begins, according to Aben Ezra, the fourth part of this book; though, according to others, it is the fifth; See Gill on Proverbs 22:17; Who this Agur was is a matter of doubt; some of the Jewish writers, as Jarchi and Gersom, and likewise some Christian writersF6De Dieu, Cocceius, Teelman. Specimen. Explicat. Parabot. p. 378. , take him to be Solomon himself, who calls himself Agur, which is said to signify "a gatherer"; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "the words of the gatherer, the son of the vomiter"; just as he calls himself Koheleth, or "the caller", or "preacher", Ecclesiastes 1:1. The reason given of this name is, because he gathered wisdom and the lawF7Jelammedenu apud Buxtorf. Lex. Rab. col. 26. ; or, as Jarchi, he gathered wisdom, and vomited it; that is, delivered it out to others; so he did, he sought after and attained to more wisdom than any before him, for he was wiser than all men; and it may be added, that he "gathered" silver and gold, and the treasure of kings, and increased in riches more than any before him, Ecclesiastes 1:13. But then all this does not agree with the person whose words these are; for he speaks of himself as being very ignorant, and as not having learned wisdom, Proverbs 30:2; and desires neither poverty nor riches, Proverbs 30:8; besides, the word "Agur" signifies not "a gatherer", but "gathered", as HillerusF8Onomastic. Sacr. p. 39. renders it; and so Cocceius, who thinks also that Solomon is meant, yet not for the above reasons, but translates the clause thus, "the words of the recollected son of the obedient"; as if it described Solomon the son of David, the obedient one, the man after God's own heart, when he was restored by repentance; but it seems better, with Aben Ezra, to understand this of some very good, knowing, and worthy man, who lived in those times, either before the times of Solomon, or in the same, whose pithy sayings and sentences he had a great regard for, and joined them to his own; or who lived in the times of Hezekiah, or before, whose proverbs were collected by his men, and added to those of Solomon's they had copied in the preceding chapters; see Proverbs 25:1;

even the prophecy; or "burden"F9המשא "onus", Mercerus; "prophetia gravis", Tigurine version. , as many of the prophecies are called; it designs something received from the Lord, taken up and carried to others; so Balaam is said to "take up his parable", Numbers 23:7. Here it does not design a prediction of future events, unless it can be thought that there is in the following words a prophecy of the Messiah; but an instruction, a declaration of things useful and profitable; so preaching in the New Testament is called prophesying often, 1 Corinthians 14:1. This is a part of the word of God, of the prophecy which came not by the will of man, but by the inspiration of God, 2 Peter 1:19; which prophecy

the man spake, this excellent good man Agur, who was divinely inspired; see Numbers 24:3;

unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal; who were either the children of Agur, whom he instructed in the knowledge of divine things; or they were, as Aben Ezra, either his companions with whom he conversed about sacred things, or his disciples who inquired of him about these things, and learned them of him. Some thinkF11Jermin in loc. these are titles of God himself, to whom Agur directs his speech, and acknowledges his ignorance of the divine Being, whom he might justly call Ithiel and Ucal, that is, "God with me", and "the mighty One"; and certain it is that Agur does direct a prayer to God, Proverbs 30:7; And some read these words themselves as a prayer, "let God be with me, and one shall prevail"F12See Trapp in loc. , that is, over all mine enemies; for, if God is on the side of his people, who shall be against them? or, "I shall be able" to do all things through the Lord's strength, Romans 8:31; But I rather think the words should be read, as Jarchi observes, "concerning Ithiel and Ucal"F13So Junius & Tremellius, Aamama, Calovius, Cartwright. ; that is, concerning the Messiah, to whom these names agree. Ithiel, or "God with me", is very similar to a phrase used by Christ himself in the days of his flesh, John 8:29. God was with him as the eternal Word, and his only begotten Son, from all eternity, which denotes his co-existence, nearness of union, equality of nature, and distinction of persons; he was with him as Mediator before the world began, in the council of peace, which was between them both; in the covenant of grace made with him, in which all things were agreed upon respecting the salvation of his people; he was with him in the beginning of time down to his incarnation; he was with him in the creation of all things, in the sustentation of them; in the works of providence, and in the government of the church; he was with him during his state of humiliation; in his infancy, to protect him from the malice of Herod; he was with him when disputing with the doctors in the temple, to direct him; he was with him at his baptism, transfiguration, and other times; he was with him throughout his public ministry, from the beginning to the end of it; he did good and healed all manner of diseases, and wrought amazing miracles, God being with him, John 3:2, Acts 10:38; and he was with him in his sufferings and at his death; and so he is with him in his exalted state; he raised him from the dead, set him at his own right hand, and ever attends to his prevalent intercession; and will be with him in raising the dead and judging the world. "Ucal", which has the signification of being able, strong, mighty, and powerful, agrees with Christ, who is the mighty God the most mighty, the Almighty; and which appears by the works he did before his incarnation, as the creation of all things out of nothing, the preservation of all things, and the several wonderful events in which he was; concerned, as the confusion of languages, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, the conducting the children of Israel through the wilderness, with others; also what he did when here on earth, the mighty works and miracles done by him, and especially the great work of man's redemption, and also the raising of himself from the dead: moreover, what he now does and will do for his people show him to be the mighty One; taking the care of all the churches and providing for them; supplying all the wants of his people, bearing all their burdens, supporting them under all their temptations, and delivering them out of them; strengthening them for his service, protecting them from their enemies, keeping them from falling, raising their dead bodies, and bringing all the sons of God to glory: or if the word should be rendered, as it may, "eaten" or "consumed"F14Vid. Teelman. Specimen. Expliicat. Parabol. p. 391. , it is true of Christ, whose zeal ate him up, Psalm 69:9; and who is the antitype of the sacrifice consumed by fire.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The words of a Agur the son of Jakeh, [even] the prophecy: the man spoke to Ithiel, even to b Ithiel and Ucal,

(a) Who was an excellent man in virtue and knowledge in the time of Solomon.

(b) Who were Agur's scholars or friends.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

This is the title of this chapter (see on Introduction).

the prophecy — literally, “the burden” (compare Isaiah 13:1; Zechariah 9:1), used for any divine instruction; not necessarily a prediction, which was only a kind of prophecy (1 Chronicles 15:27, “a song”). Prophets were inspired men, who spoke for God to man, or for man to God (Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:14, Exodus 7:15, Exodus 7:16). Such, also, were the New Testament prophets. In a general sense, Gad, Nathan, and others were such, who were divine teachers, though we do not learn that they ever predicted.

the man spake — literally, “the saying of the man”; an expression used to denote any solemn and important announcement (compare 2 Samuel 23:1; Psalm 36:1; Psalm 110:1; Isaiah 1:24, etc.). Ithiel and Ucal were perhaps pupils.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

The title of this first appendix, according to the text lying before us, is:

“The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the utterance.”

This title of the following collection of proverbs is limited by Olewejored ; and המּשּׂא, separated from the author's name by Rebia, is interpreted as a second inscription, standing on one line with דּברי, as particularizing that first. The old synagogue tradition which, on the ground of the general title Proverbs 1:1, regarded the whole Book of Proverbs as the work of Solomon, interpreted the words, “Agur the son of Jakeh,” as an allegorical designation of Solomon, who appropriated the words of the Tôra to the king, Deuteronomy 17:17, and again rejected them, for he said: God is with me, and I shall not do it (viz., take many wives, without thereby suffering injury), Schemôth rabba, c. 6. The translation of Jerome: Verba congregantis filii Vomentis , is the echo of this Jewish interpretation. One would suppose that if “Agur” were Solomon's name, “Jakeh” must be that of David; but another interpretation in Midrash Mishle renders בן (“son”) as the designation of the bearer of a quality, and sees in “Agur” one who girded ( אגר = חגר ) his loins for wisdom; and in “son of Jakeh” one free from sin ( חטא ועון נקי מכל ). In the Middle Ages this mode of interpretation, which is historically and linguistically absurd, first began to prevail; for then the view was expressed by several (Aben Ezra, and Meîri the Spaniard) that Agur ben Jakeh was a wise man of the time of Solomon. That of Solomon's time, they thence conclude (blind to Proverbs 25:1) that Solomon collected together these proverbs of the otherwise unknown wise man. In truth, the age of the man must remain undecided; and at all events, the time of Hezekiah is the fixed period from which, where possible, it is to be sought. The name “Agur” means the gathered (Proverbs 6:8; Proverbs 10:5), or, after the predominant meaning of the Arab. âjar, the bribed, mercede conductum ; also the collector (cf. יקוּשׁ, fowler); or the word might mean, perhaps, industrious in collecting (cf. 'alwaḳ, attached to, and other examples in Mühlau, p. 36). Regarding בּן = binj (usual in בּן־נּוּן ), and its relation to the Arab. ibn, vid ., Genesis, p. 555. The name Jakeh is more transparent . The noun יקהה, Proverbs 30:17; Genesis 49:10, means the obedient, from the verb יקהּ ; but, formed from this verbal stem, the form of the word would be יקהּ (not יקה ). The form יקה is the participial adj. from יקה, like יפה from יפה ; and the Arab. waḳay, corresponding to this יקה, viii. ittaḳay, to be on one's guard, particularly before God; the usual word fore piety regarded as εὐλάβεια . Mühlau (p. 37) rightly sees in the proper names Eltekeh [Joshua 19:44] and Eltekon [Joshua 15:59] the secondary verbal stem תּקה, which, like e.g., תּוה ( תּאה ), תּאב, עתד, has originated from the reflexive, which in these proper names, supposing that אל is subj., means to take under protection; not: to give heed = cavere. All these meanings are closely connected. In all these three forms - יקהּ, יקה, תּקה - the verb is a synonym of שׁמר ; so that יקה denotes

(Note: According to the Lex. 'Gezerî (from the Mesopotamian town of 'Geziret ibn 'Amr ), the word wakihon is, in the Mesopotamian language, “the overseer of the house in which is the cross of the Christians;” and accordingly, in Muhammed's letter to the Christians of Negran, after they became subject to him, “a monk shall not be removed from his monastery, nor a presbyter from his presbyterate, ( waḳâhtah ) wala watah wakahyttah ” (this will be the correct phrase), “nor an overseer from his office.” The verbal stem waḳ - ah ( יקהּ ) is, as it appears, Northern Semitic; the South Arabian lexicographer Neshwan ignores it (Wetzstein in Mühlau).)

the pious, either as taking care, εὐλαβής, or as keeping, i.e., observing, viz., that which is commanded by God.

In consequence of the accentuation, המשּׂא is the second designation of this string of proverbs, and is parallel with דברי . But that is absolutely impossible. משּׂא (from נשׂא, to raise, viz., the voice, to begin to express) denotes the utterance, and according to the usage of the words before us, the divine utterance, the message of God revealed to the prophet and announced by him, for the most part, if not always ( vid ., at Isaiah 13:1), the message of God as the avenger. Accordingly Jewish interpreters ( e.g., Meîri and Arama) remark that משׂא designates what follows, as דבר נבוּאיּי, i.e., an utterance of the prophetic spirit. But, on the other hand, what follows begins with the confession of human weakness and short-sightedness; and, moreover, we read proverbs not of a divine but altogether of a human and even of a decaying spiritual stamp, besides distinguished from the Solomonic proverbs by this, that the I of the poet, which remains in the background, here comes to the front. This משׂא of prophetic utterances does not at all harmonize with the following string of proverbs. It does not so harmonize on this account, because one theme does not run through these proverbs which the sing. משׂא requires. It comes to this, that משׂא never occurs by itself in the sense of a divine, a solemn utterance, without having some more clearly defining addition, though it should be only a demonstrative הזּה (Isaiah 14:28). But what author, whether poet or prophet, would give to his work the title of משׂא, which in itself means everything, and thus nothing! And now: the utterance - what can the article at all mean here? This question has remained unanswered by every interpreter. Ewald also sees himself constrained to clothe the naked word; he does it by reading together המשׂא נאם, and translating the “sublime saying which he spoke.” But apart from the consideration that Jeremiah 23:31 proves nothing for the use of this use of נאם, the form ( הגבר ) נאם is supported by 2 Samuel 23:1 (cf. Proverbs 30:5 with 2 Samuel 22:31); and besides, the omission of the אשׁר, and in addition of the relative pronoun ( נאמו ), would be an inaccuracy not at all to be expected on the brow of this gnomology ( vid ., Hitzig). If we leave the altogether unsuspected נאם undisturbed, המשׂא will be a nearer definition of the name of the author. The Midrash has a right suspicion, for it takes together Hamassa and Agur ben Jakeh, and explains: of Agur the son of Jakeh, who took upon himself the yoke of the most blessed. The Graecus Venetus comes nearer what is correct, for it translates: λόγοι Ἀγούρου υἱέως Ἰακέως τοῦ Μασάου . We connect Proverbs 31:1, where למוּאל מלך, “Lemuel (the) king,” is a linguistic impossibility, and thus, according to the accentuation lying before us, מלך משּׂא also are to be connected together; thus it appears that משׂא must be the name of a country and a people. It was Hitzig who first made this Columbus-egg to stand. But this is the case only so far as he recognised in למואל מלך משׂא a Lemuel, the king of Massa, and recognised this Massa also in Proverbs 30:1 ( vid ., his dissertation: Das Königreich Massa [the kingdom of Massa], in Zeller's Theolog. Jahrbb . 1844, and his Comm .), viz., the Israelitish Massa named in Genesis 25:14 (= 1 Chronicles 1:30) along with Dumah and Tema . But he proceeds in a hair-splitting way, and with ingenious hypothesis, without any valid foundation. That this Dumah is the Dumat el-jendel (cf. under Isaiah 21:11) lying in the north of Nejed, near the southern frontiers of Syria, the name and the founding of which is referred by the Arabians to Dûm the son of Ishmael, must be regarded as possible, and consequently Massa is certainly to be sought in Northern Arabia. But if, on the ground of 1 Chronicles 4:42., he finds there a Simeonitic kingdom, and finds its origin in this, that the tribe of Simeon originally belonging to the ten tribes, and thus coming from the north settled in the south of Judah, and from thence in the days of Hezekiah, fleeing before the Assyrians, were driven farther and farther in a south-east direction towards Northern Arabia; on the contrary, it has been shown by Graf ( The Tribe of Simeon, a contribution to the history of Israel, 1866) that Simeon never settled in the north of the Holy Land, and according to existing evidences extended their settlement from Negeb partly into the Idumean highlands, but not into the highlands of North Arabia. Hitzig thinks that there are found traces of the Massa of Agur and Lemuel in the Jewish town

(Note: Cf. Blau's Arab. im sechsten Jahrh . in the Deutsch. Morgl. Zeits . xxxiii. 590, and also p. 573 of the same, regarding a family of proselytes among the Jews in Taima.)

of טילמאס, of Benjamin of Tudela, lying three days' journey from Chebar, and in the proper name (Arab.) Malsā (smooth), which is given to a rock between Tema and Wady el-Kora ( vid ., Kosegarten's Chestom . p. 143); but how notched his ingenuity here is need scarcely be shown. By means of more cautious combinations Mühlau has placed the residence of Agur and Lemuel in the Hauran mountain range, near which there is a Dumah, likewise a Têmâ ; and in the name of the town Mismîje, lying in the Lejâ, is probably found the Mishma which is named along with Massa, Genesis 25:14; and from this that is related in 1 Chronicles 5:9., 1 Chronicles 5:18-22, of warlike expeditions on the part of the tribes lying on the east of the Jordan against the Hagarenes and their allies Jetur, Nephish, and Nodab,

(Note: Mühlau combines Nodab with Nudêbe to the south-east of Bosra; Blau ( Deut. Morg. Zeit . xxv. 566), with the Ναβδαῖοι of Eupolemos named along with the Ναβατοῖοι . The Kamûs has Nadab as the name of a tribe.)

it is with certainty concluded that in the Hauran, and in the wilderness which stretches behind the Euphrates towards it, Israelitish tribes have had their abode, whose territory had been early seized by the trans-Jordanic tribes, and was held “until the captivity,” 1 Chronicles 5:22, i.e., till the Assyrian deportation. This designation of time is almost as unfavourable to Mühlau's theory of a Massa in the Hauran, inhabited by Israelitish tribes from the other side, as the expression “ to Mount Seir ” (1 Chronicles 4:42) is to Hitzig's North Arabian Massa inhabited by Simeonites. We must leave it undecided whether Dumah and Têmâ, which the Toledoth of Ismael name in the neighbourhood of Massa, are the east Hauran districts now existing; or as Blau ( Deut. Morgl. Zeit . xxv. 539), with Hitzig, supposes, North Arabian districts (cf. Genesis . p. 377, 4th ed.).

(Note: Dozy ( Israeliten in Mecca, p. 89f.) connects Massa with Mansâh, a pretended old name of Mecca.)

“Be it as it may, the contents and the language of this difficult piece almost necessarily point to a region bordering on the Syro-Arabian waste. Ziegler's view ( Neue Uebers. der Denksprüche Salomo's, 1791, p. 29), that Lemuel was probably an emir of an Arabian tribe in the east of Jordan, and that a wise Hebrew translated those proverbs of the emir into Hebrew, is certainly untenable, but does not depart so far from the end as may appear at the first glance” (Mühlau).

(Note: These German quotations with the name of Mühlau are taken from the additions to his book, which he placed at my disposal.)

If the text-punctuation lying before us rests on the false supposition that Massa, Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1, is a generic name, and not a proper name, then certainly the question arises whether משׂא should not be used instead of משּׂא, much more משׂא, which is suggested as possible in the article “Sprüche,” in Herzog's Encycl . xiv. 694. Were משׁא, Genesis 10:30, the region Μεσήνη, on the northern border of the Persian Gulf, in which Apamea lay, then it might be said in favour of this, that as the histories of Muhammed and of Benjamin of Tudela prove the existence of an old Jewish occupation of North Arabia, but without anything being heard of a משּׂא, the Talmud bears testimony

(Note: Vid ., Neubauer's Le Géographie du Talmud, pp. 325, 329, 382.)

to a Jewish occupation of Mesene, and particularly of Apamea; and by the mother of Lemuel, the king of Mesha, one may think

(Note: Derenbourg's Essai sur l'Hist. et la Géog. de la Palestine, i. p. 224.)

of Helena, celebrated in Jewish writings, queen of Adiabene, the mother of Monabaz and Izates. But the identity of the Mesha of the catalogue of nations with Μεσήνη is uncertain, and the Jewish population of that place dates at least from the time of the Sassanides to the period of the Babylonian exile. We therefore hold by the Ishmaelite Massa, whether North Arabian or Hauranian; but we by no means subscribe Mühlau's non possumus non negare, Agurum et Lemuëlem proseytos e paganis, non Israelitas fuisse . The religion of the tribes descended from Abraham, so far as it had not degenerated, was not to be regarded as idolatrous. It was the religion which exists to the present day among the great Ishmaelite tribes of the Syrian desert as the true tradition of their fathers under the name of Dîn Ibrâhîm (Abraham's religion); which, as from Wetzstein, we have noted in the Commentary on Job (p. 387 and elsewhere), continues along with Mosaism among the nomadic tribes of the wilderness; which shortly before the appearance of Christianity in the country beyond the Jordan, produced doctrines coming into contact with the teachings of the gospel; which at that very time, according to historic evidences ( e.g., Mêjâsinî's chronicles of the Ka'be ), was dominant even in the towns of Higâz; and in the second century after Christ, was for the first time during the repeated migration of the South Arabians again oppressed by Greek idolatry, and was confined to the wilderness; which gave the mightiest impulse to the rise of Islam, and furnished its best component part; and which towards the end of the last century, in the country of Neged, pressed to a reform of Islam, and had as a result the Wahabite doctrine. If we except Proverbs 30:5., the proverbs of Agur and Lemuel contain nothing which may not be conceived from a non-Israelitish standpoint on which the author of the Book of Job placed himself. Even Job 30:5. is not there (cf. Job 6:10; Job 23:12) without parallels. When one compares Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 13:1, and 2 Samuel 22:31 = Psalms 18:31 (from which Proverbs 30:5 of the proverbs of Agur is derived, with the change of יהוה into אלוהּ ), Agur certainly appears as one intimately acquainted with the revealed religion of Israel, and with their literature. But must we take the two Massites therefore, with Hitzig, Mühlau, and Zöckler, as born Israelites? Since the Bible history knows no Israelitish king outside of the Holy Land, we regard it as more probable that King Lemuel and his countryman Agur were Ishmaelites who had raised themselves above the religion of Abraham, and recognised the religion of Israel as its completion.

If we now return to the words of Proverbs 30:1, Hitzig makes Agur Lemuel's brother, for he vocalizes אגוּר בּן־יקההּ משּׂא, i.e., Agur the son of her whom Massa obeys. Ripa and Björck of Sweden, and Stuart of America, adopt this view. But supposing that יקהּ is connected with the accusative of him who is obeyed, בן, as the representative of such an attributive clause, as of its virtual genitive, is elsewhere without example; and besides, it is unadvisable to explain away the proper name יקה, which speaks for itself. There are two other possibilities of comprehending המּשּׁא, without the change, or with the change of a single letter. Wetzstein, on Proverbs 31:1, has said regarding Mühlau's translation “King of Massa:” “I would more cautiously translate, 'King of the Massans,' since this interpretation is unobjectionable; while, on the contrary, this is not terra Massa , nor urbs Massa . It is true that the inhabitants of Massa were not pure nomads, after 30 and 31, but probably, like the other tribes of Israel, they were half nomads, who possessed no great land as exclusive property, and whose chief place did not perhaps bear their name. The latter may then have been as rare in ancient times as it is in the present day. Neither the Sammar, the Harb, the Muntefik, nor other half nomads whom I know in the southern parts of the Syrian desert, have any place which bears their name. So also, it appears, the people of Uz ( עוץ ), which we were constrained to think of as a dominant, firmly-settled race, since it had so great a husbandman as Job, possessed no קרית עוּץ . Only in certain cases, where a tribe resided for many centuries in and around a place, does the name of this tribe appear to have remained attached to it. Thus from גוּף דּוּמה, 'the low-country of the Dumahns,' or קרית דּוּמה, 'the city of Dumahns,' as also from קרית תּימא, 'the city of the Temans,' gradually there arose (probably not till the decline and fall of this tribe) a city of Dumah, a haven of Midian, and the like, so that the primary meaning of the name came to be lost.” It is clear that, from the existence of an Ishmaelite tribe משּׂא, there does not necessarily follow a similar name given to a region. The conj. ממּשּׂא, for המשּׂא ( vid ., Herzog's Encycl . xiv. 702), has this against it, that although it is good Heb., it directly leads to this conclusion ( e.g., 2 Samuel 23:20, 2 Samuel 23:29, cf. 1 Kings 17:1). Less objectionable is Bunsen's and Böttcher's המּשּׂאי . But perhaps המשׂא may also have the same signification; far rather at least this than that which Malbim, after השּׂר המשּׂא, 1 Chronicles 15:27, introduced with the lxx ἄρχων τῶν ᾠδῶν : “We ought then to compare 2 Samuel 23:24, דודו בּית לחם, a connection in which, after the analogy of such Arabic connections as ḳaysu'aylana, Kais of the tribe of 'Ailân ( Ibn Coteiba, 13 and 83), or Ma'nu Ṭayyin, Ma'n of the tribe of Tay, i.e., Ma'n belonging to this tribe, as distinguished from other men and families of this name (Schol. Hamasae 144. 3), בית לחם is thought of as genit”

(Note: In ' העם וגו, Jeremiah 8:5, ' ירושׁ is though of as genit., although it may be also nom., after the scheme of apposition instead of annexion. That it is genit., cf. Philippi's St. Const . pp. 192-195.)

(Mühlau). That בית לחם (instead of בּית הלּחמי ) is easily changed, with Thenius and Wellhausen, after 1 Chronicles 11:26, into מבּית לחם, and in itself it is not altogether homogeneous, because without the article. Yet it may be supposed that instead of משׂא, on account of the appelat. of the proper name (the lifting up, elatio ), the word המשׂא might be also employed. And since בן־יקה, along with אגור, forms, as it were, one compositum, and does not at all destroy

(Note: We say, in Arab., without any anomaly, e.g., Alı̂ju - bnu - Muḥammadin Tajjiןn, i.e., the Ali son of Muhammed, of the tribe (from the tribe) of Tay; cf. Joshua 3:11; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 63:11; and Deuteronomy 3:13.)

the regulating force of אגור, the expression is certainly, after the Arabic usus loq ., to be thus explained: The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, of the tribe (the country) of Massa.

The second line of this verse, as it is punctuated, is to be rendered:

The saying of the man to Ithîel, to Ithîel and Uchal,

not Ukkal ; for, since Athias and van der Hooght, the incorrect form ואכּל has become current. J. H. Michaelis has the right form of the word ואכל . Thus, with כ raphatum, it is to be read after the Masora, for it adds to this word the remark לית וחסר, and counts it among the forty-eight words sometimes written defectively without ו ( vid ., this list in the Masora finalis, 27b, Col); and since it only remarks the absence of the letter lengthening the word where no dagesh follows the vocal, it thus supposes that the כ has no dagesh, as it is also found in Codd. (also Jaman .) written with the Raphe . לאיתיאל is doubly accentuated; the Tarcha represents the Metheg, after the rule Thorath Emeth, p. 11. The ל after נאם is, in the sense of the punctuation, the same dat. as in לאדני, Psalms 110:1, and has an apparent right in him who asks כּי תדע in the 4th verse. Ithîel and Uchal must be, after an old opinion, sons, or disciples, or contemporaries, of Agur. Thus, e.g., Gesenius, in his Lex . under איתיאל, where as yet his reference to Nehemiah 11:7 is wanting. איתיאל is rendered by Jefet and other Karaites, “there is a God” = איתי אל ; but it is perhaps equivalent to אתּי אל, “God is with me;” as for אתּי rof sa ”;e, the form איתי is also found. אכל ( אכל ) nowhere occurs as a proper name; but in the region of proper names, everything, or almost everything, is possible.

(Note: Vid., Wetzstein's Inschriften aus den Trachonen und dem Haurangebirge (1864), p. 336f.)

Ewald sees in 1b-14 a dialogue: in Proverbs 30:2-4 the הגּבר, i.e., as the word appears to him, the rich, haughty mocker, who has worn out his life, speaks; and in Proverbs 30:5-14 the “ Mitmirgott ” [= God with me], or, more fully, “ Mitmirgott-sobinichstark ” [= God with me, so am I strong], i.e., the pious, humble man answers. “The whole,” he remarks, “is nothing but poetical; and it is poetical also that this discourse of mockery is called an elevated strain.” But (1) גּבר is a harmless word; and in נאם הגּבר, Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15; 2 Samuel 23:1, it is a solemn, earnest one; (2) a proper name, consisting of two clauses connected by Vav, no matter whether it be an actual or a symbolical name, is not capable of being authenticated; Ewald, §274b, recognises in ' גּדּלתּי וגו, 1 Chronicles 25:4, the naming, not of one son of Heman, but of two; and (3) it would be a very forced, inferior poetry if the poet placed one half of the name in one line, and then, as if constrained to take a new breath, gave the other half of it in a second line. But, on the other hand, that איתיאל and אכל are the names of two different persons, to whom the address of the man is directed, is attested by the, in this case aimless, anadiplosis, the here unpoetical parallelism with reservation. The repetition, as Fleischer remarks, of the name Ithîel, which may rank with Uchal, as the son or disciple of Agur, has probably its reason only as this, that one placed a second more extended phrase simply along with the shorter. The case is different; but Fleischer's supposition, that the poet himself cannot have thus written, is correct. We must not strike out either of the two לאיתיאל ; but the supposed proper names must be changed as to their vocalization into a declaratory clause. A principal argument lies in Proverbs 30:2, beginning with כּי : this כי supposes a clause which it established; for, with right, Mühlau maintains that כי, in the affirmative sense, which, by means of aposiopesis, proceeds from the confirmative, may open the conclusion and enter as confirmatory into the middle of the discourse ( e.g., Isaiah 32:13), but cannot stand abruptly at the commencement of a discourse (cf. under Isaiah 15:1 and Isaiah 7:9). But if we now ask how it is to be vocalized, there comes at the same time into the sphere of investigation the striking phrase נאם הגּבר . This phrase all the Greek interpreters attest by their rendering, τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀνήρ ( Venet . φησὶν ἀνήρ ); besides, this is to be brought forward from the wilderness of the old attempts at a translation, that the feeling of the translators strives against the recognition in ואכל of a second personal name: the Peshito omits it; the Targ. translates it, after the Midrash, by ואוּכל (I may do it); as Theodotion, καὶ δυνήσομαι, which is probably also meant by the καὶ συνήσομαι (from συνείναι, to be acquainted with) of the Venet .; the lxx with καὶ παύομαι ; and Aquila, καὶ τέλεσον (both from the verb כלה ). As an objection to נאם הגבר is this, that it is so bald without being followed, as at Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15; 2 Samuel 23:1, with the attributive description of the man. Luther was determined thereby to translate: discourse of the man Leithiel.... And why could not לאיתיאל be a proper-name connection like שׁאלתּיאל ( שׁלתּיאל )? Interpreted in the sense of “I am troubled concerning God,” is might be a symbolical name of the φιλόσοφος, as of one who strives after the knowledge of divine things with all his strength. But (1) לאה, with the accus. obj., is not established, and one is rather inclined to think of a name such as כּליתיאל, after Psalms 84:3; (2) moreover, לאיתיאל cannot be at one time a personal name, and at another time a declarative sentence - one must both times transform it into לאיתי אל ; but אל has to be taken as a vocative, not as accus., as is done by J. D. Michaelis, Hitzig, Bunsen, Zöckler, and others, thus: I have wearied myself, O God!... The nakedness of הגבר is accordingly not covered by the first Leithiel . Mühlau, in his work, seeks to introduce המשׂא changed into ממשׂא : “The man from Massa,” and prefers to interpret הגבר generically:

(Note: Thus, viz., that הגבר denotes, not the man as he ought to be, but the man as he usually is (the article, as the Arabic grammarians say, “not for the exhaustion of the characteristic marks of the genus,” but for the expression of “the quality mâhîje of the genus”).)

“proverb (confession) of the man ( i.e., the man must confess): I have wearied myself, O God!...” Nothing else in reality remains. The article may also be retrospective: the man just now named, whose “words” are announced, viz., Agur. But why was not the expression נאם אגור then used? Because it is not poetical to say: “the (previously named) man.” On the other hand, what follows applies so that one may understand, under הגבר, any man you choose. There are certainly among men more than too many who inquire not after God (Psalms 14:2.). But there are also not wanting those who feel sorrowfully the distance between them and God. Agur introduces such a man as speaking, for he generalizes his own experience. Psalms 36:2 ( vid ., under this passage) shows that a proper name does not necessarily follow נאם . With נאם הגבר Agur then introduces what the man has to confess - viz. a man earnestly devoted to God; for with נאם the ideas of that which comes from the heart and the solemnly earnest are connected. If Agur so far generalizes his own experience, the passionate anadiplosis does not disturb this. After long contemplation of the man, he must finally confess: I have troubled myself, O God! I have troubled myself, O God!... That the trouble was directed toward God is perhaps denoted by the alliteration of לאיתי with אל . But what now, further? ואכל is read as ואכל, ואכל, ואכל, ואכל, ואכל, and it has also been read as ואכל . The reading ואכל no one advocates; this that follows says the direct contrary, et potui ( pollui ). Geiger ( Urschrift, p. 61) supports the reading ואכל, for he renders it interrogatively: “I wearied myself in vain about God, I wearied myself in vain about God; why should I be able to do it?” But since one may twist any affirmative clause in this way, and from a yes make a no, one should only, in cases of extreme necessity, consent to such a question in the absence of an interrogative word. Böttcher's לאיתי אל, I have wearied myself out in vain, is not Hebrew. But at any rate the expression might be אל־אכל, if only the Vav did not stand between the words! If one might transpose the letters, then we might gain ולא אכל, according to which the lxx translates: οὐ δυνήσομαι . At all events, this despairing as to the consequence of further trouble, “I shall be able to do nothing (shall bring it to nothing),” would be better than ואכל (and I shall withdraw - become faint), for which, besides, ואכלה should be used (cf. Proverbs 22:8 with Job 33:21). One expects, after לאיתי, the expression of that which is the consequence of earnest and long-continued endeavour. Accordingly Hitzig reads ואכל, and I have become dull - suitable to the sense, but unsatisfactory on this account, because כּלל, in the sense of the Arab. kall, hebescere , is foreign to the Heb. usus loq . Thus ואכל will be a fut. consec . of כלה . J. D. Michaelis, and finally Böttcher, read it as fut. consec . Piel ואכל or ואכל ( vid ., regarding this form in pause under Proverbs 25:9), “and I have made an end;” but it is not appropriate to the inquirer here complaining, when dissatisfaction with his results had determined him to abandon his research, and let himself be no more troubled. We therefore prefer to read with Dahler, and, finally, with Mühlau and Zöckler, ואכל, and I have withdrawn. The form understood by Hitzig as a pausal form is, in the unchangeableness of its vocals, as accordant with rule as those of יחד, Proverbs 27:17, which lengthen the a of their first syllables in pause. And if Hitzig objects that too much is said, for one of such meditation does not depart, we answer, that if the inquiry of the man who speaks here has completed itself by the longing of his spirit and his soul (Psalms 84:3; Psalms 143:7), he might also say of himself, in person, כליתי or ואכל . An inquiry proceeding not merely from intellectual, but, before all, from practical necessity, is meant - the doubled לאיתי means that he applied thereto the whole strength of his inner and his outer man; and ואכל, that he nevertheless did not reach his end, but wearied himself in vain. By this explanation which we give to 1a, no change of its accents is required; but 1b has to be written:

נאם הגּבר לאיתי אל

לאיתי אל ואכל

(Note: The Munach is the transformation of Mugrash, and this sequence of accents - Tarcha, Munach, Silluk - remains the same, whether we regard אל as the accusative or as the vocative.)

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

Jakeh — Who lived either in Solomon's time, or rather afterwards, and was famous in his generation for wisdom and piety.

The prophecy — The prophetical instruction; for as the prophets were public preachers as well as foretellers of things to come, so their sermons, no less than their predictions, are commonly called their prophecies.

And Ucal — Two friends and co-temporaries of Agur, who desired his instructions.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 30:1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, [even] the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

Ver. 1. The words of Agur the son of Jakeh.] The Vulgate renders, Verba Congregantis filii Vomentis, taking these proper names for appellatives, as if the penman of this chapter meant to tell us that he would here give us his sacred collectanies or miscellanies, such as he had taken up from the mouths of wisest men, who had vomited or cast them up, in a like sense as that painter in Aelian drew Homer vomiting, and all the other poets licking it up. (a) This Agur, whether he lived in Solomon’s days or Hezekiah’s, was an excellent man, as the word Gheber here used imports; Vir bonus et prudens, minus tamen clarus (as one saith of Jesse, David’s father), a godly, wise man, though nothing be elsewhere spoken of him in Scripture. Some think that, being requested by Ithiel and Ucal, two of his disciples, to give them a lesson, Socrates-like he answered, Hoc unum scio, quod nihil scio: This one thing I know, that I know nothing: "Surely I am more brutish than any man," sc., of myself, further than taught of God; for every man is a brute by his own understanding, as Jeremiah hath it. [Jeremiah 10:8] But I rather incline to those that take Ithiel and Ucal for Christ, whose goodness and power - those two pillars of a Christian’s faith, as Jachin and Boaz were of Solomon’s temple - are by these two names deciphered, and whom he propounds as the matter of his prophecy. Now, because sense of misery must precede sense of mercy, neither can any be welcome to Christ, but "the weary and heavy laden"; therefore he first bewails his own brutishness - fetching it up as low as Adam fallen, [Proverbs 30:2] and aggravating it in that he had not yet acquired better abilities. [Proverbs 30:3] Next he flees to Ithiel and Ucal, by the force of a particular faith - Ithiel, God with me, and Ucal, God Almighty, through whom I can do all things. This, this was the right ready way of coming to Christ; and him that thus cometh he will in no wise cast out. [John 6:37] There is a good interpreter, (b) that, paralleling this text with Jeremiah 9:23-24, reads it thus: A gathering together of the words of Agur, the son of Jakeh. Let the excellent man say, ‘Let God be with me, let God be with me, and I shall prevail.’

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Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


Here are mingled, with other divine things, a collection of Proverbs, as before: but it should seem to be not of the writings of Solomon. Their tendency is, however, the same; and, no doubt, they are of divine inspiration, being a part of the sacred canon of scripture.

Proverbs 30:1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

The Author, or writer, makes this first verse a preface to the subject. His name is Agur Ben Jakeh. And it is called a prophecy, what he here delivers. He seems to have addressed it to two persons, Ithiel and Ucal. But this is not certain. Indeed, from the names themselves of those persons, if they may be supposed to have any signification more to the doctrine herein contained, than to their own character, it should seem to be important. Ithiel means in the compound, God with me: and Ucal means mighty. So that it hath been supposed, that what is here delivered by Agur, is not to Ithiel, and Ucal, but concerning Christ, to whom those names are applicable. And this seems to be the more probable, because Agur means; in its original, a gatherer. So that if this be the intention, then the preface will be the word's which are gathered by Agur, in prophecy of Ithiel, even of God the mighty one with me. And this seems yet more probable from the similar prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and again in Isaiah 9:6. But if there be the least authority for this interpretation of Agur's preface, we shall be sure to find somewhat corresponding in the prophecy itself, in relation to Christ. I pray the Reader to be very diligent in looking out on this ground. And I yet pray more earnestly for that gracious God, whose office-character it is to take of the things of Jesus, and shew to us, to be with us in our going through this chapter!

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Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 30:1. The words of Agur, &c.— According to the signification of the original terms, this might be rendered, The words of him who has recollected himself, the son of obedience. The generality of the fathers and ancient commentators will have it that Solomon describes himself under the name of Agur, the son of Jakeh; others conjecture that Agur, as well as Lemuel, in the next chapter, were wise men who lived in the time of Solomon, and were his interlocutors in the book of Proverbs; an opinion without the least show of probability. This book is nothing like a dialogue. It is most probable that Agur was an inspired author, different from Solomon, whose moral and proverbial sentences (for such is the import of the word rendered prophesy) it was thought most convenient to join with those of this prince, because of the conformity of their matter; for what could ever have obliged Solomon to disguise his name in this place? For what reason could he have changed his style and manner of writing in this chapter only? for it is certain, that this chapter is penned in a way very different from the rest of the book. Besides, could it become Solomon to speak as this author does in the second verse, or to address himself to God as he does in the eighth? Certainly these words are not consistent with the situation of a king like Solomon. But who then was this Agur? When and where did he live? This is what no one yet has ever been able to tell us. See Calmet, and Bishop Lowth's 18th Prelection.

Even the prophecy, &c.— This may be rendered, The man spake a prophesy or sententious discourse to Ithiel, and Ithiel to Ucal. These two persons are supposed to have been scholars and friends of Agur, who came to him to be instructed in the principles of true wisdom. He begins with modestly declaring his own insufficiency for so great an undertaking (I am more dull than the rest of men, and void of human prudence); and recommends, as the foundation of all useful knowledge, an humble temper of mind, sensible of all the natural weakness of human understanding, and of the imperfection of its highest improvements; which he argues, Proverbs 30:4 from our ignorance of the works of nature. (See the parallel passages in the Book of Job:) And therefore in the two following verses he advises his two pupils to make it their principal study to understand the will of God, which is of all knowledge the most important, and of the greatest use in human life; and in all their inquiries of this kind, to confine themselves to what God has revealed. See Foster's Sermons, vol. 1 serm. 8: and Deuteronomy 30:11-14.

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Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible


Agur’s prophecy, Proverbs 30:1; wherein he acknowledgeth his own ignorance, Proverbs 30:2,3. The purity of God’s word, with the happiness of them that trust in him, Proverbs 30:5. He dehorts from adding to the Scriptures, by the danger of it, Proverbs 30:6. The two points of his prayer, with their reason, Proverbs 30:7-9. Four wicked generations, Proverbs 30:10-14. Four things insatiable, Proverbs 30:15,16. Parents not to be despised, Proverbs 30:17. Four things hard to be known, Proverbs 30:18,19. The way of an adulterous woman, Proverbs 30:20. Four things intolerable, Proverbs 30:21-23. Four things little, but wise, Proverbs 30:24-28. Four things stately, Proverbs 30:29-31.

Agur the son of Jakeh; a person so called, as appears from the designation of his own and his father’s name, who lived either in Solomon’s time, or rather afterwards, and was famous in his generation for wisdom, and piety, and prophecy; and therefore his proverbs were thought fit to be added to those of Solomon, either by those men of Hezekiah, mentioned Proverbs 25:1, or by some other. But that this should be meant of Solomon may easily be supposed, but cannot be proved; nor is it probable, as being contrary both to the style of the whole chapter, and to the matter of some part of it, as Proverbs 30:7-9, which agrees not to Solomon; and to the laws of good interpretation, one of which is, that all words should be taken in their most natural and proper sense, when there is no evidence nor necessity of understanding them improperly and figuratively, which is the present case.

The prophecy; the prophetical instruction; for as the prophets were public preachers as well as foretellers of things to come, so their sermons, no less than their predictions, are commonly called their prophecies.

Unto Ithiel and Ucal; two friends, or disciples, and contemporaries of Agur, called by those names, who having a great and just opinion of his wisdom, desired his instructions. Others, concerning Ithiel and Ucal; which they understand of Christ, called

Ithiel, which signifies God with me, and answers to Immanuel, which is God with us; and

Ucal, which signifies power or prevalency. But if he had meant this of Christ, why should he design him such obscure and ambiguous names, as if he would not be understood? Why did he not call him by the name of Shiloh or Messiah, or some other Scripture title belonging and ascribed to him? Besides, this interpretation agrees not with the contents of this chapter, wherein there is only a short and occasional mention of Christ, but the chapter consists in a manner wholly of counsels and sentences of a quite other kind.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1.The prophecy , (hammassa,) the utterance, the oracle — oracular saying or discourse. It may also mean parable or proverb. It is the word occurring so often in the prophets rendered “burden.” Hitzig, followed by others, throwing away the Masoretic points, takes Jakeh out of the category of proper names and puts Massa into it, reading, “the son of her who was obeyed in Massa,” or whose domain is Massa. The name Massa is found among the children of Ishmael, (Genesis 25:14,) and as Massa and Dumah are mentioned together, both there and in 1 Chronicles 1:30, his supposed that the country of Massa adjoined that of Dumah, where there was probably a colony of Israelites of the tribe of Simeon. Comp. 1 Chronicles 1:41-43.

Ithiel — Separated into two words, , lei thiel, issupposed to make the sense, I have toiled for God, or after God, or, “to God with me.” — Miller.

Ucal — By a little change of points this word becomes, I have ceased, desisted from, or ended, (my toil,) or, according to Miller, “I am able.” Those who take Ithiel and Ucal to be proper names, believe them to be the pupils of Agur, and it is conjectured that the different parts of Agur’s discourse is in answer to questions proposed by these pupils, after the manner of the ancient schools — “hearing them, and asking them questions.” Luke 2:46.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

A. The introduction of Agur30:1

Scripture does not refer to either Agur or his father (or ancestor) Jakeh elsewhere. At least one writer felt he may have been a contemporary of Solomon. [Note: Kidner, p178.] An "oracle" is a weighty message from God (cf. Zechariah 9:1), and the Hebrew word, massa, may refer to a place. [Note: Ross, p1119.] Ithiel and Ucal may have been Agur"s sons.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 30:1. The words of Agur — Who this Agur was no one has ever yet been able to show: it is probable, however, that both he and Jakeh, his father, were well known in Israel at the time this chapter and the next were added to the preceding parts of the proverbs. Jakeh is thought to have lived either in Solomon’s time or soon after, and to have been famous in his generation for wisdom and piety; even the prophecy — The prophetical instruction; for as prophets were public preachers as well as foretellers of things to come, so their sermons, no less than their predictions, are commonly called their prophecies. Ithiel and Ucal — Two friends and cotemporaries of Agur, who desired his instructions.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Gatherer, &c., or, as it is in the Latin, Congregans, the son of Vomens. The Latin interpreter has given us in this place the signification of the Hebrew names, instead of the names themselves, which are in the Hebrew, Agur, the son of Jakeh. But whether this Agur be the same person as Solomon, as many think, or a different person, whose doctrine was adopted by Solomon, and inserted among his parables or proverbs, is uncertain. (Challoner) --- Vomiter may denote David, who delivered many excellent canticles; Eructavit cor, Psalm xliv. De Dieu translates, "The words of him who is recollected the son of obedience." The author styles himself foolish, and asks for neither beggary nor riches, (ver. 2, 8.) which seems not to agree with Solomon; though there can be no doubt but this chapter is inspired. (Calmet) --- In effect, that great king might form this petition, being mindful of the instability of human greatness, and confess that of himself he was foolish. --- Vision. Hebrew massa (Haydock) generally implies something disagreeable, but here it is put for a collection of moral sentences. --- With, &c. Hebrew also, "to Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal," (Protestants; Haydock) friends of Agur, (Calmet) or his children, (Menochius) or rather Solomon speaks to all the faithful. We never find Agur mentioned as a canonical writer; and if he were, he would have been placed after Solomon. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Agur = I shall fear. Probably a master of assemblies, as in Ecclesiastes 12:11. Nothing is known of him, but we accept all that was in the Scriptures which the Lord Jesus referred to. We know as little of some of the Minor Prophets.

prophecy = oracle, or burden.

man. Hebrew. geber. App-14.

Ithiel = El [is] with me. App-4.

Ucal = I shall be able.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

Agur - a figurative name, perhaps; the collector, from Hebrew, 'aagar (Hebrew #103), to collect. Son of Jakeh - akin to Hebrew, yikqah, 'obedience.' That Agur was inspired, appears from the expression,

The prophecy - Hebrew, masaa' (Hebrew #4853); the oracle (cf. Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible' for Hitzig's strange theory and translation, 'son of the queen of Massa' (Genesis 25:14; 1 Chronicles 1:30; 1 Chronicles 4:41-43).

The man spake (Hebrew, neum, spake by inspiration) "unto Ithiel and Ucal-Agur's disciples. The names, according to Ewald, are symbolical, meaning 'God with me, and I am strong' (from yacol, he was strong).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers




(1) The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy.—Jewish interpreters have seen in these titles (but apparently without a shadow of reason) a designation of Solomon himself, the “convener” and instructor of assemblies (Ecclesiastes 1:1; Ecclesiastes 12:11), son of the “obedient” man after God’s own heart. But they in all probability belong to some otherwise unknown sage, whose utterances were thought not unworthy of being joined with those of the wise King of Israel himself. In support of this view 1 Kings 4:30 may be adduced as a proof of the estimation in which the wisdom of foreign nations was at this time held. The book of Job also, which possibly now was added to the canon of Scripture, is certainly of foreign, probably of Arabian, origin. Some light may be thrown upon the nationality of Agur by the words translated in the Authorised version “the prophecy” (massâ). This is the term constantly employed to express the “utterance,” or, more probably, the message which a prophet “bore” to his hearers, often one of gloomy import (Isaiah 13:1, etc.). But the term is not very appropriate to the contents of this chapter, nor to the “words of King Lemuel,” in Proverbs 31, and the expression, “the prophecy,” standing quite alone, with no other words to qualify it, is very singular. For these reasons it has been proposed to translate the beginning of the verse thus: “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh the Massan,” i.e., a descendant of the Massa mentioned in Genesis 25:14 as a son of Ishmael. This would place his home probably in North Arabia, and Lemuel would be king of the same tribe.

The man spake.—The word translated “spake” is most frequently used of the revelation of God to prophets, rarely (Numbers 24:3 and 2 Samuel 23:1) of the utterances of inspired prophets; never of the words of ordinary men.

Unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal.—These most probably were disciples of his. As their names may mean “God with me,” and “I am strong,” a fanciful delineation of their characters, in the style of the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” has been attempted by some writers. And a mystical interpretation of them, “You must have God with you, if you are to be strong,” may be found in Bishop Wordsworth’s Commentary. It has been proposed also, as is possible with a slight change in the pointing, to translate these words thus: “I am weary, O God, I am weary, and am weak,” or, “have made an end,” and to make them an introduction to Proverbs 30:2, which supplies the reason for this weariness, “For I am more brutish,” etc. Thus is described, it has been thought, the sinking at heart of one who has sought after God, and the more he has realised the divine excellence, has become the more conscious of his own nothingness. But this rendering is unnecessary, as the Authorised version gives a good sense.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,
Agur was probably a public teacher, and Ithiel and Ucal, his pupils; and this was the massa, or oracle, which he delivered, not by his own wisdom, but by the Holy Spirit, for the benefit of man; and which, it is probable, was added by "the men of Hezekiah."
31:1; 2 Peter 1:19-21
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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

— "even unto Ithiel and Ucal" - Word Study on "Ithiel" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Ithiel" ( אִיתִיאֵל) (H 384) probably comes from two root words: ( אׂשֶׁר) (H 837), which means "happiness," and ( אֵל) (H 410), which means "strength." As an adjective, it means, "mighty," or "Almighty." Therefore, Strong gives the meaning of the name of Ithiel as "God has arrived." Another meaning of this name suggested is "signs of God," or "coming of God" (Hitchcock).

Comments- The only other use of this name in the Scriptures is found in Nehemiah 11:7, where Ithiel is the son of Jeshaiah of the tribe of Benjamin, who was one of the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah"s. Thus, the name appears to be Hebrew, and not a foreign name.

Nehemiah 11:7, "And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah."

Word Study on "Ucal" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Ucal" ( אֻכָל) (H 401) is derived from the verb ( אָכַל) (H 398), which means "to eat." Thus, he gives the meaning of the Hebrew name Ucal as "devoured." Other suggestions for a meaning are "power, prevalency" (Hitchcock), and "I am strong" (Smith).

Comments- It is supposed that the Ithiel and Ucal are friends or pupils of Agur. However, PTW suggests that these are not names, but verbs, thus yielding a translation, "The man said, I have wearied myself, O God, I have wearied myself, O God, and am consumed." Several modern translations support this idea.

BBE, "The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, from Massa. The man says: I am full of weariness, O God, I am full of weariness; O God, I have come to an end:"

DRC, "The words of Gatherer the son of Vomiter. The vision which the man spoke with whom God Isaiah, and who being strengthened by God, abiding with him, said:"

YLT, "Words of a Gatherer, son of an obedient one, the declaration, an affirmation of the man: --I have wearied myself for God, I have wearied myself for God, and am consumed."

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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:1". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.